Having seen the benefits gained by enterprises that have transformed to run their operations on cloud-native architectures, the telecoms industry is poised to take a similar step. Communications service providers (CSPs) desperately need to reset their businesses so they can provide the high speed, lowlatency capacity their customers need and do so in a way that enables sustainable profitability. As always, there are two sides to this coin. One is enablement of new revenues from the capital intensive network infrastructure CSPs are rolling out, while the flip side of the coin is the need to radically reduce their total cost of operations.
Several technical innovations are maturing simultaneously to enable CSP transformation. On the network side, there is the emergence of 5G alongside virtualisation technologies such as network functions virtualisation (NFV) and software defined networks (SDN). These technologies offer the potential to operate vast network capacity in a flexible, automated way enabling CSPs to approach new services and revenue opportunities in an agile manner, that also ensures maximised utilisation of their assets.
In the mobile market specifically, 5G is far more than just the next generation in the GSM family. It provides a transformative impetus thanks to the high bandwidth, low latency and huge connection density per cell it offers. 5G is a vital enabling technology for digital twins, mobile edge computing, autonomous vehicles and many more applications and devices, all of which provide CSPs with opportunities to monetise effectively. These bounteous opportunities for CSPs are dependent on a multistage transformation which involves CSPs preparing for the new era of 5G, virtualisation and open networks but doing so while migrating from 3G to 4G to 5G. All of these cellular generations will coexist for many more years so there is a need to retrospectively accommodate a new, cloudnative mode of operation for 5G into 3G and 4G operations.